Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouse.
This pair of former gatehouses is passed each day by thousands of motorists travelling east along the Euston Road.
To say they are unnoticed would be disingenuous, as they’re certainly not.
Being hostelries, the western lodge – The Euston Tap – was voted by Londonist as the best pub in Euston. Its sister opposite – The Cider Tap – trailed a poor joint seventh.
Their original Victorian purpose wasn’t to slake one’s thirst before alighting on a comfortable and uncrowded LNWR train taking you efficiently to your destination, even if you might have the need for a swift one if you were bound to the journeys end at that time – Birmingham.
The original purpose of these tiny building was far more prosaic. Built in 1870 as parcel and information offices they flanked the now demolished Euston Arch. These minute two-storey buildings measure a mere 24 foot square (so don’t expect to sit down with your pint) and are in Grecian style, with Victorian flourishes. The usual Victorian bravado the destinations accessible from their railway station are emblazoned in incised and gilded letters upon the brickwork.
Between these two lodges is an 80ft wide gap, useful now for buses, but originally intended as an imposing approach to the country’s first inter-city railway terminus. This expanse, much loved by alcoholics in summer to sleep away the afternoon has been brought back to the public’s attention by the Government’s proposal to spend at least £42.6 billion so we can travel effortlessly to Birmingham 32 minutes quicker than before.
This has re-ignited the debate to stuff the arch back between the lodges, thereby restricting easy access to the boozers. Naturally a pressure group has been formed for this to happen, sections of the original arch have been traced to a river bed, while the ornamental gates languish in the National Railway Museum in York.
When it stood outside the old Euston station it was a pretty incongruous sight, overly large with unmatched Doric columns. It was described by Augustus Pugin as “a Brobdignaggian absurdity” (he did, after all, lose his mental faculties and spent time in Bedlam).
I’m not a lover of the current Euston station it has the most depressing cab rank in London, stuck in the basement you feel like a rat stuck in a trap, and so I have to agree with Matt Brown’s summation at the Londonist:
A ponderous, lurking cack-bastard whose only virtue is to look marginally better than the shitty Richard Seifert buildings currently adorning the front of Euston Station.
Main photo: Western entrance lodge to Euston Station by Andrew Abbott (CC BY-SA 2.0)